That’s what I had for Thanksgiving. Well, no, actually we had fondue. (Can you hear the record needle scratching across the LP of tradition?)
But before I started cutting up all the seafood and vegetables for our Un-Turkey dinner, I sat at my computer and thought about the holiday, and my parents, and how much they loved holidays, and worked so hard to make them super-duper memorable specialicious. And in that soft, empty place in my mind, I kept coming back to the internet. No, not because I was doing shopping to get away from my grief, but because I was inspired by how much I found here this year, how many things that I really needed. So I wrote a Thanksgiving Day post to the laydeez of the internet for BlogHer.com. Yeah, that means you. Here it is.
And? Thank you. Truly.
Dear Women of the Internets or Blogosphere or Whatever You Call It,
As I sit here in my pajamas on Thanksgiving morning, and think about all that I’m grateful for — in what turned out to be a very challenging and upside-down year for me — my mind keeps drifting back to You. I am so grateful for all of you. And since women as a group have an unfortunate tendency to be pretty hard on themselves, I thought I would write down the reasons why all of you have mattered so much, and changed the way I think of myself, and the world. And for this, I am grateful beyond words. But I will try to put some words together and do my best to express it. Because I think ALL of you should give yourself a few moments today to bask in the warmth of what we do here, and what we put out into the very confused and upside-down world, every day.
1) You dare to tell the truth, even when the truth doesn’t feel good. Every day, I discover a new blog where a woman is struggling with something, be it her child’s illness, her marriage, her finances, her sense of self-worth. I know there are so many people who want to turn their face away from these kinds of ordinary struggles, as if it can keep the struggles from reaching their own lives, but to me it is all company. Company because we have to know that life is hard, as well as that life is filled with joy. We are better prepared to be resilient in the face of life’s challenges if we understand they come to everyone, that “deserve” doesn’t mean much to the fates, that there are no golden people for whom everything goes easily. Thank you for being brave to share these tales of griefs big and small. You help keep us all honestly connected to the fragility of life.
2) You react to everything with compassion. One of the big reasons women feel they can share their struggles, is because they can be pretty sure they will be met with a wall of support and love and friendship. Time and again, we read in the blog comments “You will be fine,” “We are here for you,” “Please know we care.” In some ways we seems to have lost the ability to do this in our own local communities, so crammed are our lives with commitments and hurriedness and tasks to complete. But when our attention is focused online in the minutes our hours we take for ourselves, humanity’s natural tendency to connect and to care comes out again and again and again. And through this we learn to value people who may not be like us, we can see where differences fade into commonalities. What a powerful gift to us all!
3) You are so creative and so generous. Oh, the ideas and inspiration we can stumble across on a casual wander through the links. Every day I find a new idea, a new spark, a piece of beauty, a family memory waiting to be made. You share so many of your own gifts whether it’s crafts or recipes or humor or curating images of beautiful homes. And you give away your secrets! The number of fantastic ideas women are sharing for free is remarkable, and yet, you’re also being smart and selling some of them as well. I can make a faux-fur vest, a headband, some jewelry, wall art, a caramelized pear tart, authentic mole sauce, a pillow, a new way to display family photos and on and on and on. I’ll never believe that hopping from link to link on the web is a waste of time; I consider it an investment in my imagination. Thank you for feeding it every day.
4) You express delight. I will never tire of the many expressions of joy and congratulations and FTWs and laughter and high fives and “oooooh!”s and “check this out!”s. Life is meant to be filled with small joys, and that’s evident every day in the Twitter feed we all swim in. And no matter what it is that you’re enthusiastic about, you can find your crowd who shares the same passion.
5) You mean it. You really, really mean it. Whatever it is that each of us puts out there (out here?) every day, it’s obvious that it is all deeply personal, deeply genuine, and connected to a living, breathing person. So much for the dehumanization of life because of the internet. I’ve found the opposite: Since I started spending most of my time online, for work and for play, I have made at least 47 truly close, keep-’em-for-life friends. (And yes, of course I’m talking about you.) I have discovered at least 465 other people I care about deeply, even though I may not be a presence on their blogs. I have learned 6,214 unbelievably interesting pieces of information. And I wrote approximately 42 posts about my own upside-down life which were met with love, support and care, even though I hadn’t met many (or most!) of those people in person. If that isn’t something to be grateful for, I don’t know what is.
So today, when I am missing my parents and missing my family traditions and also, yes, feeling grateful for the family I do have, for my brothers and my son and my boyfriend and my kind ex-husband, I am counting on more than 10 fingers why I’m so happy to have all of you, in my life, in my feed, in my Twitter stream, and on my side. I bow to you with gratitude, and hope that you will take a minute to feel proud for the creative, compassionate, resilient, giving world you build with your own words and presence, every single day.